Fourth wave

France's Europe minister blasts UK over biased anti-Covid quarantine rules

Clément Beaune, France's Minister for Europe, has hit out at British government plans to maintain a 10-day quarantine on travellers from France who enter England.
Clément Beaune, France's Minister for Europe, has hit out at British government plans to maintain a 10-day quarantine on travellers from France who enter England. AFP - MARTIN BUREAU

A French minister has accused Britain’s travel rules of being discriminatory after Boris Johnson's government announced it would keep anti-coronavirus quarantine measures for travellers coming from France - but not those from other EU countries.

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“It’s excessive and it’s frankly incomprehensible on health grounds," said Europe minister Clément Beaune

"It’s not based on science and discriminatory towards the French."

During an interview with the French broadcaster LCI TV, he added: “I hope it will be reviewed as soon as possible, it’s just common sense.”

Beaune's outburst comes after England, Scotland and Wales announced plans to cut restrictions on international journeys for travellers who have been fully vaccinated.

France - which is rated amber plus in the traffic light system that grades countries according to their case, variant and vaccine rate - is the only European Union country excluded from the change that will take effect from 2 August.

Retaliation

Beaune said France did not plan to employ retaliatory measures.

"Sometimes in France we were in a difficult situation and we understood - even if we regretted it - that some of our neighbours had to apply harsh measures towards us," he added. 

The French Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, confirmed that he brought up the rating systems a few days ago with his British counterpart Dominc Raab.

"We will continue to maintain pressure," said Le Drian. "I hope this decision will be reviewed as soon as possible."

The British government says it is keeping quarantine rules for French visitors due to the prominence of the Beta variant.

But officials in France say most of Beta cases come from the island of La Réunion in the Indian Ocean.

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